Author: Kimberley Falk
Photos Stephen Wild
The law governing employment standards and health and safety in the workplace is constantly changing, and many businesses are unaware or don’t have the resources to hire someone full-time to keep track of these changes.
According to the Ministry of Labour, in July 2018 alone, more than $1.1 million in fines were levied to Ontario businesses who were convicted for not complying with the Employment Standards Act, 2000. With both federal and provincial legislation governing businesses of all sizes, companies need to be on top of these laws.
The Ministry of Labour conducts various workplace inspection blitzes every year, be they in construction, mining, industrial or healthcare sectors. Unsure what the requirements are? There are more reasons now than ever before for companies to ensure they’re meeting the minimum requirements under the Legislation.
Wilkens Health and Safety Solutions has been located in Kingston for more than 17 years to assist clients in fostering compliant workplaces and help their clients meet the often confusing legislation. They also help them save money in the long run.
“We help small and medium-sized companies who don’t have the resources to have someone on staff full-time. We’re a one-stop shop,” says Wiebke K. Wilkens, the owner, whose education and experience proves she knows what it takes to help your business comply with legislation.
Prior to founding her consulting practice, Wiebke spent 10 years as an enforcement officer and district manager for the Ontario Ministry of Labour. She also spent two years with the federal government before leaving the public service and heading up the health and safety compliance program at Queen’s University.
In her current practice, Wiebke states that for some companies, they run their whole program and for others, they pop in and assist them in addressing the parts of their programs that meet the main needs of the client. This can range depending on the needs of the business.
“Basically, we’re here to help,” she says.
Wilkens Health and Safety Solutions has also gained success and awareness through their WSIB safety group program, of which they are the local corporate sponsors.
“The group as a whole sees a reduction in claims and severity and they get an extra rebate from the board [on their premiums].”
The program has grown from 20 to 50 member businesses over the past 16 years and has returned an extra $2.1 million to companies that have participated in the program.
On the cost of a membership in the WSIB safety group program, Wiebke advises, “The fee is $600 for a basic membership, $795 for an enhanced membership, which includes unlimited contact, and $1,295 for a premium membership where we help write and implement member firms workplace standards. Members are also eligible for additional discounts on much-needed courses.”
There are other firms in the area who offer to help companies set up policies after an incident has occurred, but very few take the same approach to help businesses set up their programs so that the incident never needs to occur before changes happen.
“My team and I pride ourselves on becoming a partner with our client firms, helping to mentor the management team and get our face out into the community to let them know we’re here to help with the complex, ever-changing legislation. Many people get frustrated with new rules coming out and we are here as a resource to help foster a compliant workplace.”
Wilkens Health & Safety Solutions